The North Umpqua Invitational Pro-Am disc golf tournament teed off on Saturday morning at Whistler’s Bend Park east of Roseburg with a field of close to 100 competitors from all over the Oregon.

The golfers were practicing social distancing as they began teeing off at 8 a.m. Saturday. The event runs through today.

Tournament directors say they would’ve normally had around 140 competitors for the popular event except for the COVID-19 restrictions forced them to cut off at 100.

Organizers took all the precautions required, asking everyone to socially distance. Hand sanitizer was readily available and items were regularly cleaned.

Scott Withers of Albany, Oregon, is one of the tournament organizers, is also a nationally ranked competitor. He has 88 tournament wins including eight this year, and he is ranked seventh in the world by the Professional Disc Golf Association.

It’s the sixth year he has been a part of organizing the event, and he says this is one of the most attractive to contestants.

“It’s probably the second biggest disc golf tournament in the state of Oregon, and in terms of prestige for players wanting to play in it, it’s right behind the Oregon State Championships,” Withers said. “Whoever wins it will take home about $800, so there’s a little bit of a perk you’re playing for.”

But the tournament, he says, is a big draw for more than just the purse money.

“It’s the park, the campground, the river — the course is world class, it’s as good as any,” Withers said. “I play at a high professional level and travel all around the country, and Whistler’s Bend is as nice as any course anywhere.”

Michael Grummert came from Portland to compete, and he agreed the course is the big draw. He was the 11th-rated golfer in the tournament.

“This course is amazing, and I love some competitive golf,” he said. “It’s a very arduous course and it test all your abilities. But this is one of those courses that even if you’re having a bad round, you can look up at the majesty of what this area is and just kind of soak it in.”

A 27-hole round of disc golf will normally take five to six hours to complete.

Golfers came from all around the state to compete in the two-day event, which is part of the PDGA tournament schedule.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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